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‘Rakhigarhi proves India is oldest civilisation, the mother of democracy’

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Unearthing of Rakhigarhi proves India is oldest civilisation, mother of democracy, says ICHR chief Raghuvendra Tanwar.

download (1)Manash Pratim Gohain | TNN | New Delhi | Nov 18, 2022:: Asserting that the Rakhigarhi archaeological findings confirm India is the oldest civilisation and the ‘mother of democracy’, Indian Council of Historical Research chairperson Raghuvendra Tanwar said it was the British who “during their rule, demolished or tried to demolish our past”.

In an interview to TOI, Tanwar said ICHR will fill gaps created by oversights through a book ‘Bharat: Loktantra ki Janani’, authored by 30 historians. The book will be released on November 26.

The significance of Rakhigarhi is the maturity of the Harappan findings, pre-dating it by almost 1,500 years. So we go back to a period of almost 4500 BCE from the present 2500. That makes us by far the oldest civilisation. In historical research you have to deduce things. Unlike the Egyptian or Mesopotamian civilisation, in Rakhigarhi there was no burial/ tomb. Every society will have some people more important than others. However as no ones death is more important than the other (in Rakhigarhi) we can deduce it as a more inclusive, egalitarian civilisation.

When we are talking about the ‘mother of democracy’, we mean the evolutionary process. Rome and Greece are about seventh century BCE or eighth century BCE. Here we are talking of 4000 BCE, this is the difference. And when you move down the line to Rigvedic period you have specific references (about the democratic process).

In this volume we have 30 articles from the Harappan, Rigvedic and Sanskritic literature sources. This book is not just about scriptures, but also archaeological evidence, epigraphical, temples – for example how temples are made and what is the democratic process involved in making temples. We have renowned scholars contributing articles on these lines. For example, what are the democratic references in Mahabharata or in the Bhagvad Gita.

Why this initiative now?

In the case of Indian history, we had a lot of people coming in, different invaders and invasions. Everyone left some impact somewhere. And they ultimately all merged. Whatever background they came from, in a couple of 100 years, they were all Indians. In the case of the British, this did not happen. During their rule, they demolished or they tried to demolish our past, they delinked us from whatever was our legacy or historicity, whether it was culture, spiritualism or political greatness of our past. We are an ancient civilisation, predating the British by thousands of years. They started a trend of understanding India from the Western perception. Even today you have leading universities in Britain, scholars sitting there passing judgment on us. These
are things that should have been highlighted through our ages, but they were not.

You will notice that the freedom movement was presented as a political movement. But the fact is that the revolutionaries, for example, are talking of culture, of spiritualism. If you look at the early and late 19th century, the revolutionaries that were emerging, whether it is Tilak or Bankim Chandra or Vivekananda, where are they getting their inspiration from? It’s not a question of Assam or Haryana, the entire region between the ocean and the Himalayas we see as one nation and they look at this nation as a mother.

Now, if somebody has not done it (focused on it), that doesn’t mean we will not do it. If someone has just focused on one part of history that is their outlook.

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So this is an agenda to debunk the Western perspective on India?

What I studied in 1977, by the next five, six years those books had disappeared. There was no R C Majumdar, Jadunath Sarkar or Raghubir Singh. You had another set of historians, right? It’s not my business to discredit a historian or give credit to another. We just want to fill in the gaps. We feel that our past legacy has been overlooked and we need to focus attention to that. The articles that we are drawing from are purely academic and have nothing to do with trying to revive something.

For my IPS, I studied the southern and eastern dynasties. But if you go to my university or to any university north of Delhi and even Delhi, you will not find any reference to most of our southern and eastern dynasties. This is what you devise, what you teach in your schools. Gradually they have been changing it. But this is an exercise we are not concerned about. Whether it becomes a part of the curriculum or not, but we feel that India was the mother of democracy, and why should the world not know about it?When ICHR releases something, it has to stand the test of time and the test of scholarship. History being what it is, the moment we do something 10 people will say they’re doing it because they have an agenda. But we have no agenda.

But why should we be concerned and looked at and judged by people who actually came into civilisational evolution thousands of years after us? You need to remember that we are not a nation that was created by a political war. But if you look at the map of Europe, it is a political map. Most of the world has evolved through processes of wars, political decisions, and redrawing of maps.


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Read and watch: Rakhigarhi in Haryana’s Hisar district was a well-planned Harappan city 5,000 years ago.   

Read also: ‘Rakhigarhi proves India is oldest civilisation, mother of democracy’

Read also: Bones Of Contention: Who Do The Rakhigarhi Skeletons Really Belong To?

Read also: Rakhigarhi: A page from the diary of my visit.

Read also: DNA analysis of Rakhigarhi remains vehemently challenges Aryan invasion theory.

Courtesy: TOI & the links used above.

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